Ethical Concerns Raised by Limitless

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There have been numerous technological advancements in the world today as opposed to the previous years. Proponents of technology consider it as the savior of the human population. The invention and improvement of technology have led to numerous positive effects that many of us fail to acknowledge its downside in humankind existence. Only a few people take time to consider the consequences that may arise due to the use of technology. It is also true in the film Limitless as directed by Neil Burger. The main protagonist goes ahead to continually use a modernized drug offered to him by a friend without taking a moment to reflect on the possible outcomes. Thus, the paper will make an in-depth analysis of the movie Limitless taking into consideration the ethical concerns as a result of technological advancement.

            The film starts by re-asserting that human beings only use a small portion of their brain as most of the potential is left unused. However, the movie introduces a different way in which individuals can achieve their full potential by the use of a pill that can enhance neurons to go beyond the initial capabilities. Before using the pill, Eddie Morra was living a life full of difficulties which were on the verge of falling apart. He was unable to finish his book because of lack of ideas and motivation to pitch in his writing. His girlfriend left him due to lack of a bright future. However, Eddie’s life took a dramatic turn when he met his ex-brother-in-law who introduced him to the wonder drug that changed his life. Eddie was able to turn his life around as his brain functioning improved tremendously as a result of the smart pill.

            Eddie’s life on the NZT pills is much different from his previous personality. His girlfriend dumped him because he could not finish a manuscript for a book. However, he was able to do this and many more things as a result of the smart pill. He became so influential in the society amassing much wealth and status than before. All these changes in Eddie posses a primary ethical concern. Does the use of the NZT pill or any other cognitive enhancing drugs lead to unfair personal advantages in the society? Eddie Morra was a loser in life before using the smart tablet. However, he gains an unfair advantage over the rest of the community once he starts using it by utilizing his newfound power to increase his wealth and fame in the community.  In the real society, if the cognitive enhancing drug is available, those who will have access to it will create unfair competition in the education sector as well as work-related areas because of enhanced brain abilities. Aside from this, those taking part in sports will experience unfair competition also as a result of the drug as it is the case today with the issue of sports doping.

            The other ethical concern raised by the film is when does one know it is time to stop using the enhancing drug? Individuals can begin taking the medication in small portions, but once they get used, then it will be hard for them to stop hence leading to addiction. Without the NZT pill, Eddie gets memory blackouts. He feels that he cannot concentrate because both the mind and the body are crashed due to the lack of the drug in his system. The movie dramatically presents this sides effects, but it is of great concern to the health of an individual. Prescription drugs have different risks that may harm the safety of an individual in cases where care is not taken. In the same way, the availability of neuroenhancement drugs in the real society will likely raise such concerns about addiction and safety (Michelfelder, 278).

            The principle ethics of justice ethics applies to this film as it advocates for equal treatment for all the people regardless of their abilities (Budinger & Budinger, 10).  However, the availability of the NZT pill in the world today would change this and also cause an ethical dilemma. If the tablet existed in the world today, then it would only be available to some people and not everyone in the society. Thus, who will decide who gets the drug and who does not? What will be the standards of gauging educational, sports and work achievement in the society when there is unfair competition among individuals. The justice ethics will not be applicable in this case because of the lack of level ground for all the people in the world. Besides, the principles of autonomy may be overlooked in the case of availability of cognitive enhancing pills. Parents may decide to keep their children hooked on the drugs without consulting them. Philosopher Kant stated in the principle of autonomy that all individuals have the right to make decisions that will affect their lives (Budinger & Budinger, 27). Thus, many parents and guardians will likely ignore this principle hence infringing on the rights of their children.


            All in all, technology is a blessing in disguise and hence should be used by the people responsibly, ethically and morally. We have to ensure that we uphold our values and ethics at all times and therefore technology in the right way instead of letting it determine our lives. The movie Limitless shows that our brain can achieve its potential that has no limits and hence allows individuals to accomplish their desires. However, it is necessary to exercise our values to avoid addiction that could lead to our downfall and misery in life.

Works Cited

Budinger, Thomas F., and Miriam D. Budinger. "Ethics of emerging technologies: scientific facts and moral challenges." (2006).

Limitless. Dir. Neil Burger. Perf. Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, Anna Friel amd Andrew Howard. CBS, 2015.

Michelfelder, Diane. "Technological ethics in a different voice." Technology and values: essential readings (2009): 247-257.

Ribble, Mike S., and Gerald D. Bailey. "Developing ethical direction." Learning & Leading with Technology 32.7 (2005): 36-38.

September 04, 2023

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